May 30, 2013 / 6:33 AM / in 5 years

Australian shares fall to 6-week low on soft capex, dim Asia mood

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, May 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares declined 0.9 percent to a six-week low on Thursday, as disappointing local capex data added to the dour sentiment across Asia where Japanese stocks took another dive.

Weak metals prices hit big-cap miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd, which lost 1.2 percent and 1.4 percent respectively.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 44 points to finish at 4,930.7, the lowest mark since April 19, according to the latest data.

The benchmark, which edged 0.1 percent higher on Wednesday, has been hit recently by the Fed stimulus worries and slowing growth in China, Austrlia’s major export market.

The latest plunge in Japanese shares came amid already depressed sentiment after Wall Street dropped overnight as investors continued to fret over the possible roll-back of the massive U.S. stimulus. The benchmark Nikkei fell 5.2 percent to a five-week low as strength in the yen hit exporters and triggered a broad-based selloff.

Putting a further dampener trade, data showed Australian private new capital expenditure fell 4.7 percent in the first quarter in seasonally adjusted terms compared with the previous quarter.

Financials were also weaker, with National Australia Bank tumbling 4 percent to its lowest point since February after trading ex-dividend. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group slipped 0.3 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent or 17.7 points to 4,470.5. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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